From war in Syria to landing a job in Duhok: “We all deserve an opportunity”

March 22, 2021

I am Mohamad Kalo, thirty years old and a father. After Daesh occupied many parts of Syria in 2018, I had to flee my village, Ali Gamish, located in Derki north of the country, leaving everything behind. I had already completed high school but could not continue my studies further because of the war. The Kurdistan Region of Iraq was my destination. I crossed the border with my brother to Duhok, where we rented a house and started a new phase of our life.

As time passed by, it was difficult for us to sustain the rent with little financial means. We had to move to Domiz Camp for Syrian refugees near the city. I started yet another chapter with more responsibilities, tying the knot then having a child. My family and I still live in the camp.

We experienced difficult times and endured financial hardship. I started working, but my income was not enough to fulfill the needs of my family. Sometimes, I earned a daily income of 15,000 Iraqi Dinars (US$12) which was not enough to provide for food. In some days, there was even no work and no income. 

After many attempts of searching for a fixed and well-paid job, I came across an opportunity at Rivaz medical company. I applied and waited with little hope, until one day - three months later- I received a call from the company welcoming me as a Product Distributer. It was one of the best news I have heard for a long time!

Working for a medical company was not easy, as this was my first experience in the field. I received good induction and quickly learned how to do my job the best way possible. Today, I earn $700 per month. I am very happy with my job and very satisfied that I am able to provide well for my family.  What does the management think of my performance? Well, they say: “He is the most talented employee.” I believe we all deserve an opportunity and a good life.

The above text is a testimonial of Mohamad Kalo, a young Syrian refugee who was hired by the Rivaz company that received a grant from the Job Creation in KRI grant scheme. The project is funded by the European Union (EU) through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syria Crisis, 'Madad Fund', under the Headway Programme, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Governorate of Erbil and Rwanga Foundation.

Launched in late 2019, the Job Creation in KRI grant scheme supported 56 businesses to hire 699 people (for 6-8 months each, a total of 4648 working months) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The recruits include 101 Syrian refugees, 501 host community members and 97 internally displaced people, of whom 239 are females. 360 of the jobs were in generated in sectors that address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact.

To learn more, visit the Job Creation in KRI website, and download the Headway Programme fact sheet.